Last time we cruised to the Falmouth area we docked in Montego Bay. But the port was small and the ships of the Royal Caribbean fleet kept getting larger. The company made a sizable investment in creating new facilities in nearby Falmouth, which were more than capable of accommodating our ship and a sister ship berthed on the other side of the pier. Many of our fellow passengers climbed Dunne’s River Falls or rafted on the Martha Brae River as we used to do from Mo Bay.
It felt chaotic as all of us flowed off the gangways and looked for the tours we had booked, but there were clear signs posted and we soon found ourselves headed for a large plantation for a dune buggy ride. It was designed to be an adrenalin experience, jolting and bumping past banana and coconut trees on old plantation roads full of ruts and rocks. The fairly steady downpour made the ride much more so as we got wetter and more spattered with mud with every mile. The only part of me that was dry was the hair under my safety helmet. The tour leader reassured us that we would have been just as dirty on a dry, dusty day. My skin was so brown it looked like I had gotten a wonderful Jamaican tan, but after the mud washed away in the shower, it all was gone. Paparazzi were posted along the course, ready to document every bone jarring move.
As we returned to the port we were surprised to see police cars and lights flashing. Excited local singers and dancers had gathered and we were shooed away when we tried to get close to them. This all became clear when an open air shuttle passed by with Prince Harry smiling and waving. We were too surprised to get a photo, but his royal highness kindly went around again. We wonder what he was doing here.
By then the rain was over and we took a tour through Falmouth town in the sunshine. As is typical of many small places, the main tourists sights were the churches, but we enjoyed seeing the typical homes and daily life of the place. Some of our most vivid memories of Jamaica involved constant invitations to buy drugs, but that didn’t happen at all today. Either things have changed or our gray hair and wrinkles no longer fit the customer stereotype. The Jamaicans are a high energy, friendly people and we were constantly encourage to say we were “irie” (feeling great) or to answer “yah mahn” to every question. And of course everything was “no problem.” A great approach to life.